A Thanksgiving treasure hunt will keep children happy and occupied while visiting for the holiday. It is a fun experience for the whole family, not just the kids. Do it at the end of the Thanksgiving visit or when the kids seem to be getting cranky and bored and the adults need a pick up as well.
A treasure hunt takes some planning. Clues must be developed and hiding places need to be identified. Cards must be made with the clues on them that tell the children where to find the next clue and the final card tells them where to find the treasure.
if the weather is nice, kids can be having a great time running all over the house and yard looking for all the clues.
Hiding and Making the Clues
It is best to hide the clue cards right before the hunt so they won’t be inadvertently moved by someone who doesn’t realize what they are. Get the children occupied outside playing a game or in a room doing a craft where no clues will be hidden.
Anywhere from ten to twenty clue cards will be needed. Use index cards that are all the same so there won’t be any arguing whether something is a clue or not. On the back of each clue card write where it should be hidden. This will help when adults hide the cards. On the front write the clue. The first clue will be handed to the children so there will not be anything written on the back. The first clue can be something like “The pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620. Find a rock inside the house and look under it for your next clue.”
Make sure to place a hand sized rock somewhere in the house before everyone arrives. It needs to be placed somewhere everyone will see it. See how many kids remember seeing the rock and where it is because the next clue will be placed under it. On the front of this next clue card will be the next clue and on the back will be the word “rock” to tell where it should be hidden.
The clue under the rock can be “Pilgrims and Indians only cooked on open fires or in home made ovens and fireplaces. They didn’t have one of these to warm up leftovers.” The next clue should be waiting for them in the microwave. Other clues can be:
- Thanksgiving day is always the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. Find something that shows the days and months of the year. (clue hidden on calendar)
- The Pilgrims came over on the ship called Mayflower. Find some flowers inside and look nearby. (clue hidden under or near a vase of flowers)
- The Wampanoag Indians were the ones who taught the Pilgrims how to grow corn. Find some Indian Corn in the House. (clue hidden on some Indian corn)
- Sarah Josepha Hale was an editor of a magazine that wanted Thanksgiving to be a National Holiday. Because of her the first Thanksgiving Holiday in America was in 1863 and was a day of thanksgiving and prayer. Find a magazine with a ________ on it. (Place a magazine with something on the front that is filled in on the clue in plain sight)
- Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the United States national bird but Thomas Jefferson opposed him. (clue hidden near a statue of a turkey)
- The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began in the 1920’s. Where can you see it? (clue hidden near the TV)
Rules of the Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt
Rules are a necessity. Make sure to tell children the rules before the treasure hunt starts. Always designate an older child to be the leader. This person will either read all the clues or say which child gets to read the next clue. Other rules include:
- No fighting or arguing about who gets the clues.
- Only the leader touches the clue unless he or she gives it to someone to read. Find the clue but don’t touch it.
- No fast running inside the house.
- The group must stay together.
- When the treasure is found, no one can grab at it. An adult must take it out of its hiding place and tell the kids what to do.
The treasure should be in a box or basket and filled with some things that the kids like such as trinkets from the dollar store, a DVD they can all sit down and watch and maybe some candy. Goodie bags with each child’s name on it can also be used. Whatever is in the box, the children will remember the Thanksgiving treasure hunt and want to participate in another one the next year.